(AP) Chinese President Xi Jinping is making his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking office, arriving Wednesday in Indonesia to boost ties and economic partnerships with the region's biggest country.
He will meet his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and become the first foreign leader to speak at the country's Parliament. The countries are expected to sign a number of agreements including loans, mining, transportation and joint investment. Investment deals for monorails in the capital, Jakarta, and the West Java provincial capital of Bandung are also planned with all deals totaling $20 billion.
A currency swap that could be utilized to support Indonesia's sliding rupiah in a crisis is also expected.
"This visit is very significant for the improvement of bilateral relations in political, economic and other sectors," Industry Minister Mohamad Suleman Hidayat said at a news conference Tuesday.
He said the two countries agreed to create a strategic partnership that will benefit not only both countries, but the region and the business world.
"Therefore it needs strong will and commitment from both parties," Hidayat said.
Promoting deeper ties between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations also will be discussed.
Indonesia has been a broker during heated territorial spats over disputed islands in the South China Sea. China claims most of the entire sea on historical grounds, but Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan all strongly disagree. The number of maritime incidents between China and its neighbors has increased tensions in recent years, raising worries of potential violence.
Xi, who took office in March, is also expected to visit Malaysia and attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week on Indonesia's resort island of Bali.
China is Indonesia's second-largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached $66 billion last year, while Chinese direct investment rose to $2 billion.